May 14, 2009

Social stuff and the Cloud....

Since I set up my Twitter account, I've become completely fascinated with it. To my surprise, I find that I enjoy Twitter. I'm not a constant poster, but I do check it several times a day. I follow friends, people from other social networking sites, vendors, Library Journal, whatever catches my fancy. It's interesting the variety of people who follow me. Some I don't follow back; a few I've blocked. I've also discovered that Twitter is a great way to see if something is just you or is it affecting everyone. Recently, Google went down. I knew I was having problems, but wondered if it was just me. I checked Twitter. It wasn't just me. And, apparently a lot of folks weren't happy.

This bit of everything Google being down made me wonder about our dependencies on "the cloud." If calendar, documents, e-mail, photos (I'm sure there is more) is on Google (or another web based service) what do you do when that service goes down? I don't think it was down for more than a couple of hours, but if this is your primary source for your calendar and your documents, is this a problem? After all, computers crash, networks go down. There is always the possibility that due to some unforeseen circumstance we'll be without our online tools. Maybe it's a simple matter of back-up; rather than backing up what's on your PC, you back up what's in the cloud.

I've been in the unfortunate situation of having a home PC blow up and losing everything. The worst was six years of digital photos. Some had been placed online, but not all and while I was planning on saving them off, I'd never gotten around to it. I only had myself to blame. Now I make sure I put my photos in several places. I'm also not willing to pay the extra for all the apps for my home PC, so I use a variety of online services including Google Docs and Zoho. The Google down remineded me that I probably want to back those documents up as well. Better safe than sorry.